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The Shadow-Line: A Confession

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,814 ratings  ·  110 reviews
Written in 1915, The Shadow-Line is based upon events and experiences from twenty-seven years earlier to which Conrad returned obsessively in his fiction. A young sea captain's first command brings with it a succession of crises: his sea is becalmed, the crew laid low by fever, and his deranged first mate is convinced that the ship is haunted by the malignant spirit of a p ...more
Paperback, 136 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1915)
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The Shadow-Line by Joseph Conrad describes that demarcation line in the journey of life that divides the happy, bright, fantastic and irresponsible youth with the darker ages of manhood. Conrad goes on to delineate this vision as being beyond the “charm and innocence of illusions”.

The Shadow-Line is one of his most accomplished nautical tales and stands close to Typhoon and Youth as almost entirely about the sea and man’s relationship to a vessel. Whereas Youth was of a young man’s first ventur
Joseph Conrad pens this fictionalized autobiography, which, for the most part is going to be difficult if not impossible to describe. Were I able to tell you, however, you would have the sense of it in the same way that you experience a fly buzzing the ether unseen. Enthralled within the movement of words, with eyes not wanting to leave the page, you will hear the story – whispering from behind the shadow line of it’s exquisite prose.

Every page a gift.

This book is about a young captain who is ha
Vittorio Ducoli
Ognuno di noi l'ha scorta

La linea d'ombra è, con Cuore di tenebra, il più noto e il più acclamato romanzo di Conrad.
Si tratta in effetti di un testo che in poco più di 120 pagine (in questa edizione) presenta una varietà ed una stratificazione tematica straordinarie. A partire dal titolo, scelto non a caso da Conrad dopo avere scartato l'iniziale Primo comando, sono molti gli interrogativi che ci pone questo libro.
Cosa è la Linea d'ombra? La risposta immediata, ma non la più scontata, ce la dà l
This novella, told in the first person by a young Englishman who is unnamed, is set, as are so many of Conrad’s stories, in a seaport in the Far East. The narrator has suddenly resigned a comfortable position as mate on a ship, apparently resigning what he acknowledges is a good position in a fit of vague malaise, a sense of inexplicable dissatisfaction, intending to book passage home to England. Abruptly, the position of master of another ship becomes available and is offered to him, and just a ...more
John David
I picked up this book much too casually and without any forethought, and because of this, didn’t give to the book the time and energy that it deserved. This is one of Conrad’s later stories, and happens to have a lot of autobiographical elements, in that it focuses on a young man who gets a commission to lead a ship into the Orient. Conrad’s first command was to sail a ship called the Otago from Singapore into Bangkok. Despite the death of the previous captain and the less-than-auspicious circum ...more
(It's tough to rate books like these. For writing skill, I'd easily give this 5* - Joseph Conrad is a master of his craft, and his grasp both of the seafaring life itself and also of human nature is unsurpassed (in my opinion) by any other writer. But for sheer enjoyment - 3*. Not every great book draws me in - does that make sense? I find it very tricky to rate because of this, and have often given a lesser novel a higher rating because I just flat out enjoyed it, when a really excellent book g ...more
"E d'improvviso il buio divenne acqua"
Il racconto, in parte autobiografico, narra della prima esperienza come capitano di un giovane uomo e delle responsabilità che lui deve affrontare, diventando uomo e abbandonando la giovinezza e la spensieratezza che la accompagna. Il protagonista deve affrontare contemporaneamente due grossi problemi: una bonaccia che blocca la nave in mare, lontano da rotte battute e senza l'ausilio del motore, e una epidemia di febbre tropicale a cui non può porre rimedio
Un bel racconto di avventura, passione e amicizia; ma anche un viaggio introspettivo alla scoperta dei valori e delle debolezze degli esseri umani, che ad un certo punto si trovano a dover varcare linea d'ombra.
"a man should stand up to his bad luck, to his mistakes, to his conscience, and all that sort of thing. Why- what else would you have to fight against?"

On the surface this work tells a decent story with a non-preachy didactic feel. It is about a struggle for survival not by an independently strong and able hero, but a hero that uses his strength and abilities together with his crew to overcome their difficulties. This may seem formulaic but Conrad creates this world and meaning without seeming s
Ah, the satisfaction of the short novel. Clocking in 132 pages, I was able to move swiftly through The Shadow-Line, which gave the narrative something of the sense of a deep inhale.

Among the overused tropes in book reviews--from 'Dickensian' to 'limn' to 'poignant'--count in the phrase 'deceptively simple.' And yet, much to my personal consternation, that's the phrase I want to pull here about Conrad's book. Because, dammit, it is deceptively simple.

In first-person retrospective prose marked by
Ahmad Sharabiani
ناخدای رمان «مرز سایه» در شرایطی کاملا خوب، دل از کار و همکارانش و زندگی اجتماعی میکند، و گوشه انزوا برمیگزیند، و تا مرز فروپاشی عصبی و فروافتادن به دل سایهها پیش میرود، اما به ترغیب دوستی دنیادیده، کار جدیدی برمیگزیند تا از دل تیرگی مرگ خارج شود. در بخشی از رمان «مرز سایه» آمده است: در زندگی، یک «خط سایه» وجود دارد، مرزی که هشدار میدهد با گذر از آن، از حیطه خامی و جوانی گذشتهاید. گذر از این مرز با گذراندن آزمونی بسیار دشوار، امکان مییابد. این شاید همان چیزی باشد، که روانشناسان از آن، با عنوان ب ...more
Alcuni libri possono essere letti ed apprezzati solo in determinati momenti della vita. Se affrontati troppo presto non possono essere capiti, mentre presi in mano troppo tardi perdono in parte il loro significato, risultando piatti, noiosi. Se però vengono letti nel momento giusto accade una sorta di magia: la vita reale e la finzione letteraria si fondono, toccando nel profondo il cuore del lettore e aprendogli nuove prospettive, un nuovo universo.
Questo libro ne è un esempio perfetto, in qua
La prima metà di questo breve racconto autobiografico (appena 160 pagine) si tiene a galla a fatica. Non annoia nè appassiona. Nella seconda metà, finalmente, si riesce a condividere un lieve senso di tensione e incertezza col Comandante Conrad e con tutto l'equipaggio della sua Otago. Eppure... eppure c'è qualcosa che manca. Il libro non cattura; non piace come dovrebbe, non ti risucchia nella sua storia semi-esotica, e l'aura soffocante che imperversa sul mare piatto nei pressi di Bangkok semb ...more
Elena Tamborrino
135 pagine di pura e perfetta noia. Alla fine, le ultime tre pagine degne di essere ricordate.
No reason not to love Joseph Conrad. This brief bildungsroman (5 cents, cha-ching!), supposedly autobiographical, tells the story of a young captain whose first command is a boat of deathly malarial sailors, caught in the doldrums and short on quinine. It's gripping, chilling, etc. No one writes about sick men on boats (set adrift in all sorts of ways) like JC. I suppose now I should read Nostromo and Lord Jim.

Jeff A. gave me this paperbook, a Vintage reissue snagged from work. Thanks, dude. Wan
Book Wormy
The Shadow Line Joseph Conrad

This is a novella told from the point of view of an older man looking back at a pivotal moment in his left when he crossed the shadow line between youth and adulthood.

On the very day he decides to quit his position as a first mate on a ship in the Orient and to return to England he learns he is wanted as the only man considered able to captain a ship whose Captain has recently died, unable to resist the young man travels to join his new crew only to discover that thi
Typical Conradian fare in one sense: a man gets elevated to captain - partially because he's able to, partially because he doesn't want others to take such a position - on a ship. His first mate though, Mr Burns, is haunted by the memory of the previous captain and said captain's megalomania to drive the ship into the ground (or the abysses of the sea, your metaphor to choose). The captain must cross that 'shadow-line' between child-like naïveté and adult-like understanding/realism/sorrow. It's ...more
Andrea Bovino
Adescato in questo tremendo comando, inseguito dalla morte... adescato in questa tremenda vita, inseguito dalla vita stessa.

«No! No! La verità è che nella vita non si deve dare troppo peso a nulla, né in bene né in male». «Vivere a mezza velocità», mormorai con cattiveria. «Non tutti possono farlo». «Sarà abbastanza contento adesso se potrà continuare a procedere persino con quel passo», ribatté con la sua aria di consapevole virtù. «E c’è un’altra cosa: un uomo deve saper affrontare la sua catt
Conrad è uno degli autori più citati dai media. Provate ad aprire un giornale ed a leggere un articolo nella pagina culturale, ecco probabilmente tra le righe di un articolo troverete un'immagine conradiana. Forse questo romanzo è quello meno inflazionato, Cuore di tenebra è molto più citato. Per questo motivo ho deciso di affrontare tale lettura e devo dire di essere stato attratto anche dal titolo. Mi chiedevo a cosa alludesse. Alla fine il romanzo è una sorta di riposta al titolo. Viene narra ...more
I really like Conrad. Victory, Lord Jim, The Secret Agent, and Under Western Eyes are all fine books, and Heart of Darkness is one of the world's great literary masterpieces. I admired, but was somewhat less taken by Almayer's Folly and Typhoon, which seemed to me to have less to say about the workings of the mind and the human condition. Nostromo also did less for me, but it is considered one his great works so I am afraid that I missed something and should reread it. Unfortunately, The Shadow ...more
Un libro da me letto senza nessuna aspettativa particolare e che non mi ha colpito sotto nessun aspetto, se non per certi dettagli di introspezione inseriti qua e là all'interno della narrazione.
Un racconto lungo che ruota attorno a personaggi a cui non sono riuscita ad affezionarmi o che comunque non mi hanno generato nessuna sensazione particolare: non mi sono sentita connessa ad essi per nessun motivo, vuoi per l'enorme distanza che mi separava da qualsiasi marinaio, vuoi perché nessuno è car
A young man is about to quit the sailing life when he is offered the command of his own ship in the south-east Asian seas. A couple of days out, in a completely becalmed state, most of the crew comes down with malaria and our newly minted captain finds the quinine was all sold in the last port by his corrupt predecessor. The bulk of the story is mostly about the behavior of a group of people in extremis, reminiscent of Richard Hughes' In Hazard, though without the overt drama of a huge tropical ...more
I read this for my dissertation chapter on Conrad. I'm not sure if I am going to include it yet, but it needed to be read. It's a funny little story that doesn't seem to lead anywhere or accomplish anything, but maybe that's the point.
Dave Morris
No time to write a proper review, so I must steer close to being crass and say that this is coming-of-age turned up to 11 - not the mawkish "end of boyhood" beloved of sentimentalists like Spielberg, but Conrad's hard as ebony examination of that point where youthful idealism spins a near-suicidal cocoon of frustration and emerges with a more judicious appreciation for life taken warts and all.

Some have seen it as a supernatural tale, but it's quite the opposite. Conrad (as he makes clear in the
I found the first part of the book oddly hard to follow (perhaps because I read it in the vet's waiting room), but once the ship set sail I enjoyed it.
Liz Polding
I've always enjoyed Conrad's work and this book is no exception. The book conveys the oppressive atmosphere of the cursed ship and the trial by ordeal of the young captain in such an understated way that you feel drawn into the story. The image of the becalmed ship, helpless before the coming storm, hanging suspended in impenetrable darkness, each man utterly alone is striking. I found myself thinking of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, only here it is the malice of another, not the act of the c ...more
È stata una serie di coincidenze che mi ha portata a comprare questo libro, mi è capitato fra le mani e ho deciso di dare una seconda possibilità a Conrad, dopo il mio rifiuto di andare oltre le prime pagine di Cuore di Tenebra.
La storia non è tanto avvincente da tenermi incollata alle pagine, ma almeno abbastanza interessante da invogliarmi a continuare la lettura! Ecco, mi sono sentita un po' come la nave stessa: immobile, ancorata in un orizzonte desolato, che sembra non lasciare scampo, e p
Romanzo di formazione scritto impeccabilmente.

L'unico neo inevitabile: la terminologia barchereccia.
Ho letto questo libro dietro consiglio spassionato di un mio amico: a suo dire avrei avuto intuizioni illuminanti. Così purtroppo non è stato. Ho trovato la scrittura di Conrad decisamente molto pesante e lenta, anche se poi verso la metà la vicenda ha cominciato a interessarmi almeno vagamente. Ho terminato la lettura di questo racconto lungo in una sessione unica ma al termine, anche se non ho tirato proprio un sospiro di sollievo, ci sono andata vicina. Il fatto strano però è che a distanza d ...more
Patrick Sherriff
A solid novella following the trials and tribulations of a newbie captain on his first voyage in command. It's all about coming of age, and what it means to be responsible for others and the toll that takes on the individual. It's Conrad, it's pretty deep, well-written and there's subtexts and all that going on below the surface. Worth a read, but in my humble opinion, not as good as Typhoon which is astounding in its depiction of man against nature, or The Secret Sharer, which is a lesson in we ...more
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Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski ) was a Polish-born English novelist who today is most famous for Heart of Darkness, his fictionalized account of Colonial Africa.

Conrad left his native Poland in his middle teens to avoid conscription into the Russian Army. He joined the French Merchant Marine and briefly employed himself as a wartime gunrunner. He then began to work aboard Br
More about Joseph Conrad...
Heart of Darkness Lord Jim Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer Nostromo

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“All my moral and intellectual being is penetrated by an invincible
conviction that whatever falls under the dominion of our
senses must be in nature and, however exceptional, cannot differ
in its essence from all the other effects of the visible and tangible
world of which we are a self-conscious part. The world of the
living contains enough marvels and mysteries as it is—marvels
and mysteries acting upon our emotions and intelligence in ways
so inexplicable that it would almost justify the conception of life
as an enchanted state. No, I am too firm in my consciousness
of the marvelous to be ever fascinated by the mere supernatural
which (take it any way you like) is but a manufactured article,
the fabrication of minds insensitive to the intimate delicacies of
our relation to the dead and to the living, in their countless multitudes;
a desecration of our tenderest memories; an outrage on
our dignity.”
“The world of the living contains enough marvels and mysteries..acting upon our emotions and intelligence in ways so inexplicable that it would almost justify the conception of life as an enchanted state.
No, I am too firm in my consciousness of the marvellous to be ever fascinated by the mere supernatural...”
More quotes…